Dog Afraid Of Shadows/Light Reflections [7 Causes+Solutions]

Dog Afraid Of Shadows

Thanks for being responsible with your dog. It feels so strange when a dog becomes afraid of shadows or light reflections. Let’s explore 7 reasons for this matter and possible solutions.

Here is why do some dogs are afraid of shadows/light reflections.

Dogs may be afraid of shadows/light reflections due to sciophobia, vision problems, fear periods, obsessive-compulsive disorder, lack of socialization, past experiences. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, “Distract, redirect & praise,” proper socialization, desensitizing, consulting a vet are solutions.

This behavior can occur for general or abnormal reasons. However, observing the exact cause will help to addresses the issue down the line.

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Reasons why do some dogs are afraid of shadows/light reflections.

Walkthrough all of the reasons and try to figure out what is your dog’s issue. For now, don’t worry about solutions because we gonna discuss the possible approaches that can be taken to eradicate this issue.

Without future ado, let’s get started!

1. Due to sciophobia.

Generally, sciophobia means an extreme fear or dislike of shadows. In fact, this can be seen not only among humans but also among dogs.

The common symptoms are irrational panic and higher anxiety levels whenever the dog sees shadows. Moreover, this can also be defined as a type of anxiety disorder that can worsen if the dog is not treated.

2. Dog has vision problems.

A dog with vision problems might be afraid of shadows or the reflection of lights. A dog with any deficits in sight can have a hard time telling what is real and a shadow or a reflection of light.

The best thing to do is have a chat with your veterinarian. If this issue still persists, consider consulting a dog ophthalmology specialist. Here are 7 things you need to know about Dobermans and their eyesight.

3. Due to a “fear period”

Often time a “fear period” can be seen among young canines for a month or two. However, there can have multiple fear periods for a dog, especially young and less socialized dogs.

Generally, a this period can be lasts for about 2-3 weeks and the first one can expect during the 8-11 weeks, and following periods are most likely to occur during 6-14 months. 

However, a period of fear may appear even within 6-24 months. 

The dogs that experience this period tend to get afraid of everything they encounter, including shadows and light reflections. Most dogs can overcome their fear of many objects in their puppyhood.

4. Due to obsessive compulsive disorder. (OCD)

If a dog is scared of shadows or the reflection of lights, it is developing an OCD condition or has already developed it. It is essential to take appropriate action immediately to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Here are the common symptoms.

  • Tail spinning.
  • Circling behavior.
  • Overly licking body parts.
  • Eating unapropriate things.
  • Nibbling on things.
  • Pacing.
  • Barking rhythmically and incessantly.
  • Tend to drink a lot of water.
  • Chewing on shoes and other objects.

If a dog exhibits these symptoms along with fear of shadows or reflection of lights, the dog is most likely to have an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Try spending the most time with your dog to entertain him. However, we gonna discuss these things thoroughly under solutions.

5. Other psychological issues.

This issue can also be seen among dogs prone to psychological problems, including anxiety, stress, separation anxiety, and abnormal repetitive behaviors.

Watch out for the following signs.

  • Repetitive yawning even without sleepness.
  • Tend to avoid eye contact.
  • Being alone.
  • Trembling.
  • Whining.
  • Air sniffing.
  • Repetitive yawning even when they aren’t tired.
  • Excessive licking.
  • Pacing back and forth.
  • Whimpering
  • Pacing in circles.
  • Constant licking of the lips.

Therefore, if your dog exhibits these signs and fear of shadows and reflection of lights, a psychological issue has probably developed in the dog that needs to be addressed ASAP!

6. Lack of socialization.

Even the canines are smart creatures. It seems that some dogs don’t understand that every moving object has no life. That’s why some dogs are afraid of instances like as follows.

  • Shadows that are moving acroos the walls.
  • Plastic bags that skittering in the wind.
  • Garden water pipes.
  • Shopping carts.

Lack of socialization can be a defendant. But, how to tell whether a dog has missed its early socialization? Well, here are some things to look for.

  • The dog is excessively shy.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Fearful.
  • Anxiousness.
  • Nervous behaviour.
  • Restlessness.
  • Lack of common sense of things.
  • Lack of confidence.

7. Bad past experiances.

If a dog is highly fearful of shadows or light reflections, that can be because of bad past experiences, especially when your dog is adopted from a shelter or rescued.

Because you don’t know what happened in his/her former life. Perhaps, the former dog parents haven’t done any kind of training, socialization, or meet other essential needs, resulting in many psychological issues.

Suggested reading: Why does your dog bark at ceiling fans?

What should you do when a dog is afraid of light reflections/shadows?

After going through all of the above reasons, it’s time to look for the possible approaches that can be taken to resolve this issue. I’ve seen a handful of canines with this issue, and I investigated that concern with those dog parents, and we got excellent results.

1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy. (CBT)

If you hurry and have a few hundreds of bucks, the most efficient and effective way is delivering cognitive behavioral therapy.

CBT is cost-effective for the most part. However, the price range can vary from a few hundred bucks to several grands. Be sure to chat with your veterinarian prior to take any medicine.

2. Distract, redirect and praise.

Whenever your dog is afraid of a shadow or a light reflection, try to distract him even he is extremely tenacious.

In the meantime, consider teaching him the “focus” or “look at me” command, and as soon as he looks at you, redirect his attention toward something else, maybe something that can increase its enthusiasm.

For instance, when the dog is afraid of those triggers, immediately use the command, offer a high-value treat, and say, good boy. Then, provide its favorite toy or even playing tug of war is excellent redirection.

When the dog enjoys it, praise and continue.

3. Provide a proper socialization.

As we discussed earlier, lack of socialization is one of the major causes of this unusual issue.

Therefore, consider providing good socialization without wasting time anymore. Here are a handful of helpful points to consider.

  • Provide daily walks.
  • Try to meet with pretty much every kinds of people including men, women, old people, young children, toddlers, etc.
  • Participate in dog classes.
  • Go to a dog park.
  • Socialize with dogs, cats, and other creatures.
  • Car rides.
  • Introduce to new sounds.
  • Go to the shopping mall.

4. Train shadow games..

After your dog’s fear of shadows and reflection of lights subsided somewhat, considering engaging him in a shadow game is a genius idea to eliminate its fear.

There is nothing fancy going on here. All you will have to try is train him to look at a shadow or light reflection (Possible if you have a small piece of the mirror).

Click and treat whenever it looked at the shadow or that light reflection. If the dog is afraid of your shadow, drop a treat on that and let the dog eat that.

That being said, you shouldn’t attempt to do this if his fear persisted prior to starting the game.

5. Consult a vet.

If it seems like the issue still persists and things getting worsen, consider consulting a veterinarian.

Other minor solusions if your dog is afraid of light reflections/shadows.

Apart from the above 5 major solutions, here I offer a few other minor solutions that will definitely help.

6. Desensitizing him.

Consider following these steps. 

1. It's better to provide calming exercises, cuddles, massage, belly rubs, at least 2-3 times a day. 
2. Since "Focus" or "look at me" command is extremely useful during this process, consider training him that command at least 3 times a day 10-15 minutes of sessions along with self control training. 
3. Convert your dog's fear and obsession at shadows or light reflections toward something more controlable. For a instance, provide a nice toy that he will get attached to, perhaphs puzzle toy or chew toy will definitely work. 
4. Be consistent with training. After 3-4 weeks, consider providing calming exercises. 

7. Address psychological issues.

As I mentioned earlier, specific psychological issues can make a dog afraid of shadows and the reflection of lights.

Therefore, this issue can be eliminated up to some extend by addressing psychological problems, and the rest part can take over with positive reinforcement methods and other approaches mentioned above.

8. Provide proper obedience training.

Having proper basic obedience training is critical to eliminating such fear from your loving pooch. It requires a handful of commands, adjustments, and activities.

Therefore, if you don’t haven’t receive good obedience training, consider training him up. There are a handful of training videos available on the internet. If you feel it’s something beyond your control, consider hiring a dog trainer as they specialize in doing these kinds of stuff.

Things to be aware of.

It seems like now you know the possible causes and the solutions to give a shot whenever your dog is afraid of shadows and the reflection of lights. However, there are certain things you wanna be aware of.

Vision care: Following best practices to keep good eye health is key to avoiding such issues in the long run. Discuss with your vet and check if the dog’s vision is entirely okay.

Build up dog’s confidence: Consider building up your dog’s confidence and doing things independently. Watch the following video if you’re unsure how to do that.

Cuddling: Don’t attempt to pamper the dog when he is scared of a shadow or something else. Instead, follow distract, redirect, and praise methods as we discussed earlier.

Don’t drag him toward the shadow: When he freaked out by a reflection of light or a shadow, never ever drag him toward that because it will skyrocket his anxiety and stress level. You will end up with a whole new problem.

Don’t overprotect the dog: Overprotecting is one of the worst There is nothing to be afraid of certain things. Let him than explore things under his terms.

Give time: Eliminating such fear out from a dog is not an overnight process. It takes time and requires extreme patience in order to take some results. So, trust the process and stick with that. Moreover, don’t attempt to scold or punish during the process.


Most dog parents are curious to know why some dogs are afraid of shadows and the reflection of lights. We’ve discussed 7 possible reasons for that matter and 8 tips to solve the issue through this comprehensive article. Hope you found this helpful.


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